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Scope of This Book

This book does not attempt to give detailed instructions on how to install or use specific software packages or APIs, since there is already plenty of documentation for those things. Instead we discuss the various principles and trade-offs that are fundamental to data systems, and we explore the different design decisions taken by different products.

In the ebook editions we have included links to the full text of online resources. All links were verified at the time of publication, but unfortunately links tend to break frequently due to the nature of the web. If you come across a broken link, or if you are reading a print copy of this book, you can look up references using a search engine. For academic papers, you can search for the title in Google Scholar to find open-access PDF files. Alternatively, you can find all of the references at https://, where we maintain up-to-date links.

We look primarily at the architecture of data systems and the ways they are integrated into data-intensive applications. This book doesn’t have space to cover deployment, operations, security, management, and other areas—those are complex and important topics, and we wouldn’t do them justice by making them superficial side notes in this book. They deserve books of their own.

Many of the technologies described in this book fall within the realm of the Big Data buzzword. However, the term “Big Data” is so overused and underdefined that it is not useful in a serious engineering discussion. This book uses less ambiguous terms, such as single-node versus distributed systems, or online/interactive versus offline/ batch processing systems.

This book has a bias toward free and open source software (FOSS), because reading, modifying, and executing source code is a great way to understand how something works in detail. Open platforms also reduce the risk of vendor lock-in. However, where appropriate, we also discuss proprietary software (closed-source software, software as a service, or companies’ in-house software that is only described in literature but not released publicly).

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